My Passion of Doll Restoration
exciting. For most of my adult life this has been truly my passion. It all started for me when I took my old Barbies out of the attic after years. I was so disappointed in how they looked; not at all like I remembered. I wondered if it was
okay to wash the face and if so, with what? I wondered how to restore doll hair.
That is what started it all for me. I wanted my dolls and their clothes to look like I remembered them. I began searching for answers. Is it alright to scrub on a doll’s face with a soft toothbrush and a mild soap? What takes off this ugly dust, mildew and oil?
I wondered if I washed the face would the paint come off ?
Well, when I finally got done with my first Barbie, she looked like new and I was hooked. I could now display my doll just like I remembered her.
After I had gone through my whole doll collection, I wanted to do it some more. I loved making bad dolls look good. And that is what you are
going to find that my website is all about: doll restoration in general, because I love restoring OOAK dolls of all types; and vintage Barbie dolls in particular because this is my area of expertise. I have used and approved all of the products that I offer.
Now I want to share with you the thrill of “the find”. An example is a recent experience occurring at a local garage sale. I do a lot of my best discoveries at garage sales. This person had about five Barbie dolls wrapped in a very old blanket. As I looked at this group, one doll caught my eye. As I picked it up I thought it was a possible “find”. Could it be a #4 Ponytail Barbie? The body was complete with no fingers or limbs missing. It also was a solid body, not hollow like the #5 and # 6 dolls. This doll had the Brunette hair. The #4 pony tails came with either Blonde or Brunette hair. My first Barbie ever was a blond #4. They made many more blonde than brunette and I did not own one but I wanted to add her to my collection. The clincher was that this doll had curved eyebrows and blue eyeliner. Both features found only on the #4 Ponytail Dolls. This doll did not have a phenomenon known as “greasy face” caused by the vinyl leaking…. that was a huge plus.
With my heart racing and my palms beginning to sweat me calmly asked how much this doll was. The lady having the garage sale said $3. She might have taken less but instead I paid the $3 and left.
Upon closer inspection I knew that I had in fact purchased a # 4 Barbie Ponytail. The correct marks were on the body and the doll was wearing her correct original swimsuit. Little girls change outfits on dolls so the outfit is not very conclusive proof. I also noted that she had a few plugs of doll hair missing and smelled very musty. Not to worry. With a little work I knew she could look just like the day she was purchased. The outfit was complete and original. The face paint was complete with just a little lip paint needing a touch up. The value of a “very nice” doll of this vintage is over $400 and I knew I could bring her up to this standard for less than $20.
I also do the same thing with vintage Barbie doll fashions. I have used our reproduction boxes and have quite a display of original fashions in our home. I truly enjoy looking at them on display as much as the dolls. I save every little piece that I come across. Sometimes on eBay you can purchase a whole bag full of fashions items for a very modest price. Some individual pieces are quite rare. It is just as much fun to find one of these rare pieces in your modestly priced grab bag. It is especially fun when you find the one piece you are missing to complete one of your fashion displays.
I own hundreds of dolls (my husband says 1,100) and have rarely ever sold any of the dolls that I have restored. I have given quite a few away. You may have a different reason for restoring dolls and I understand. Some of my customers do it for the profit. Either way I just like the fact that a nice doll was saved to be enjoyed. Dolls like this can be found on EBay or garage sales every day. After a short period of time you can spot a “find” and make her better.
If you are new to this hobby I would start with newer less expensive dolls that need just a few doll hair plugs to bring them back to new. Anyone can clean the outfits and vinyl on older dolls. Later on you can graduate to doing some more difficult painting (like the eyes) and then maybe a complete reroot.
I will also admit that if you share my method of looking for “finds” on EBay and at garage sales and doll shows you will rarely find a doll that is still in the box. I have less than ten and it just does not come with the territory. But I must admit that the thrill to me is to start with a “not so nice” collectable and end up with a doll that looks like she has never been played with. You must decide what is the most fun to you.
Nothing in my mind is more fun that having my “girls” on display and knowing the little story behind each restoration. I am sure if you have a doll from your childhood you have saved and can restore her you will understand, especially if you have someone special to promise this doll to sometime in the future. It is a common interest and a great way to bond with the younger generation. As I share the information I have gathered in over 30 years of restoration we can all continue to grow in this hobby. I have learned quite a bit from my customers over the last nine years from this website. I am constantly amazed at the talent of the OOAK fashion dolls that my customers create. There are some extremely talented people doing very creative things in this area and I have learned a great deal from them. I feel very privileged to be able to live my passion and make a living doing it.
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We also have the Doll Hair Rerooting DVD to reroot your doll hair, joint repair kits, Katsilk®Doll Paint for all your doll projects.
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